With 2018 in full swing and the month of February finally here, it also marks the beginning of Chinese New Year’s celebrations. 2018 is the year of the Dog, and it’s all about getting together with loved ones in a celebration filled with lights, colour and sound.
Legend has it that Chinese New Year was born from an ancient tale about a mythical Ox-like creature named Year who appeared on the night of New Year’s eve with the intention of causing grief and bringing disharmony to the local villagers. It was also said that Year had a fear of the colour red and anything loud and colourful. But, in order to conquer the creature locals were said to let off loud firecrackers, making loud noises and hanging red coloured scrolls on their doors to scare it away. With the creature eventually defeated, this brought about the yearly celebrations that traditionally take place every February and is famous for its colourful parades and family gatherings.
But what about the celebrations that take palace around the world? Chinese New Year is a celebration that’s not only enjoyed in countries like China afterall. Chinese New Year has grown in popularity over the years which is why we’ve done some digging, dusted off our red envelopes and have narrowed down our favourite festivities taking place across the globe.
Believe it or not, countries like Peru have led the way in Chinese New Year celebrations in recent years. Expect hundreds to gather around El Barrio Chino (also known as Chinatown) in Peru’s capital city of Lima. Walk through the tall red arches and into another world, one filled with market stalls selling a fusion of Chinese and Peruvian eats to local Chinese businesses selling clothes and groceries. With a large Chinese community, you are more than likely to come across parades across Chinatown featuring gongs, fireworks and dancers. Chinese New Year celebrations are not only limited to Peru, you’ll also stumble upon festivities across Argentina and Venezuela who also host different artistic and cultural events at around this time.
Chinese New Year in Singapore also involves firework displays, colourful lanterns across their Chinatown and the famous River Hongbao Carnival which is held in Marina Bay. With the word Hongbao meaning ‘red pocket’, it is a symbol of the wealth and good fortune that is celebrated and appropriate for a carnival hosts a wide variety of cultural events, including laser and acrobat shows late into the evening around the Bay.
Japan’s largest Chinese community can be found in Yokohama Chinatown where Chinese New Year festivities will run for around two weeks and are filled with plenty of events to experience. The main event includes the China Lion Dance which involves dancers performing inside a Lion costume across the town passing local shops to remove all bad luck and bring in good fortune as lions are a symbol of courage and stability.
The Vietnamese know the New Year festivities as Tet, and is around the same scale as Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations as family members commonly gather together to eat traditional meals and celebrate the New Year at the same time that the Chinese celebrate. Tet normally begins with cleansing of the home, buying new clothes or paying off debts to get rid of bad fortune in the wake of the New Year. If you’re in Hanoi during this time of year firework displays will go off across the city at midnight. Locals will also celebrate Dong Da Festival amongst many others.